How to Begin your Travel Nurse Career
By Kay Slane
After you complete two years of experience, it’s understandable if you’re anxious to get out there and see what the travel nurse life is all about. But first, there are several things you need to get started. Fortunately, none of them are too complicated.
Let’s take a look:
After 1.5 years of experience, it’s recommended that you get a skills checklist, which can be downloaded from most agency websites. And when you can do 80% of those tasks independently, you’re ready to go.
Travelers need to realize that orientation can last for 4 hours to 4 days because travelers are expected to hit the ground running with minimal supervision.
Another must for first-time travelers: Be flexible and adaptable. You need to look at every location, hospital setting, and reviews that you can find about a place. Just because it isn’t in a prime location like Hawaii or Alaska doesn’t mean it won’t be a gratifying assignment. Once you gain more travel experience, you can become more selective about where you want to work.
One of the first mistakes that travel healthcare professionals get caught up in is the big world of travel healthcare, only to find out that they’ve been set up for failure by an agency that isn’t “legit.” Travelers must always ensure that an agency is Joint Commission Certified (HCSS).
Make sure your resume information is up-to-date. Some agencies will take a short application and a resume, while some want everything on the application related to profile submission formatting. Either way, it’s nice to have all your information and job history on file with agency, hospital, dates, hospital size, unit size, and specialty, with a simple one to two sentences on your duties.
Last but not least, ensure that you have your credentials on file to make them easy to find. Few things are worse than having to hunt for your BLS, TNCC, or AWHONN certification that you haven’t seen since you received them a year ago.
Don’t forget to breathe during this process!
With these simple tips, you’ll be able to hit the road sooner than you think, and you won’t be pulling your hair out trying to do things at the last minute. Best wishes and happy travels!
Kay Slane, RN, BS, CGM, is a 30-year career nurse and writer who has traveled in the areas of rehab, telemetry, emergency room, and since 2010, as a House Supervisor. She currently works from home educating nurses on becoming better travelers through her books, several travel nursing groups, and her recent development of a travel nursing university.
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